OK so this is not-a-race-but-still-a-race, one of those ‘challenge’ events where they still classify age groups and put out the overall results, but hey a win 2nd place is a 2nd place and I’ll take it!

There were a lot of people at the start line, as there are each year, close to a thousand. Of these about a hundred or so tackle it as a race, and of the hundred about 15-20 are in it for top places.

Best not to ask…

Yep, same again…

I participated along with members of my club, the mighty Taipei Slow Cyclists – spot the pink and blue jerseys, this is we.

Eckart left and Sascha right with Richard back.

135km with just over 1km of climbing, this is the fourth time I’ve done this event, and I know the route well now as the latter part of the event runs on the ocean road that goes past my apartment block, so it kind of feels like home territory for me.

My fellow TSC member shot and cut a very cool video of the day which you can see below, shout out to Richard DeVries!

It’s quite a nice route, beautiful in places, starting from Taipei Zoo and heading out east then up to Keelung, then after a mad run through the city dodging HGVs and the odd support vehicle driven by someone who’s obviously never ridden a bike and kind of feeling like your in some weird Mad Max cycling-themed movie, it’s onto the safer undulating roads along the coast to Jinshan, then around the top of Taiwan with a lumpy finish at St. John’s University.

Each year I’ve done this ride it’s been hot as heck, and this year was no exception, boiled-in-the-bag bunnies kind of sweaty wet heat. I rode the event on two bottles of water, a 1/4 or so of which went to cleaning the sweat out of my eyeballs.

I knew the legs were good after summiting the climb near the start and wondering if the route had been changed, as the climb was not as hard as I’d expected – always a good sign. Maybe we were going slower than in previous years – or maybe it was because last year as dodgy Di2 battery meant I had to do the climb in the big chain ring – in fact almost the whole event – which was so, so much fun… in a way that was no fun at all.

So, over the top we went, a group of about 20. There’s no point in this event in using any unnecessary energy til the last 15km or so, when the small 1-1.5km climbs (that are normally no big deal on an easy ride but a little different after 110km at 40km/hr) suddenly loom like bergs at Flanders and cause the groups to explode. So I sat in the top six or so in the group til then, rolled through when I had to, used an easy gear at high cadence to save energy, and waited for those hills.

The key in these events – any event actually – is energy preservation. There is no use in wasting anymore energy than you need – until the moment that you really need it. I knew where I wanted to put in an attack, so I just pushed light pedals the whole way, making sure I was out of the headwind as much as possible.

When I first started racing, an an old salty cycling dog gave me this advice – If you’ve got the wind on your chest, you’re in the wrong place – which is spot on.

Despite the group being quite strong, I noticed, on the first of these hills, with about 16km to go, that even the stronger riders dropped their pace considerably on the ascent. A quick look around told me who was hurting and who was ok, and only one guy looked ok. I thought about attacking there but figured I’d wait for the Baishawan hill – which was the plan anyway – as it meant 4km less pain in attempting to TT it to the finish.

Sure enough, as I attacked at Baishawan the group splintered, with that one guy coming with me. I went really deep here, pushing and failing then summoning the will to push again, because a decent gap there is critical. Once you summit Baishawan it’s a fast pedal on the other side then another 4-5% incline for 1k, then back down again – perfect for establishing a lead. The fact that after Baisawan there are four more small climbs means that the energy-depleted chasers cannot form much of a chase group.

But by the top of Baishawan my legs felt like candyfloss, they were wobbling. Inudged the other rider through (name is Lee Guan-Ju, no relation), and to his credit he pulled by. We worked well til 1km to go when I attacked him on the final uphill ,but he chased me down and flew past to take the win-not-win, cos remember it’s a race-not-a-race, as I came in 4 secs back in 2nd-not-2nd.

Nah screw that, it’s a race! 😉 Impressive finale by Mr Lee – the one on the left.

Messrs. Lee & Lee

Have to say that all in all I was pleasantly surprised by this effort, as I’d not done any high-end training at all, had traveled from Japan the day before, got 4 hrs sleep on Friday, and am about 4kg over half-decent race weight. So yeah, a good day, a fun day and as always it’s great to see friends out there.

A big shout out to my coachees past and present (Andrew Holt cheers!), who were there and to my Taipei Slow Cyclists compadres who showed up and fully represented, too – I promise I’ll get my team jersey finally fixed for the next event!


Moshe was 8th in M40: 4:52:06.17

Andrew came in 1st in 45+ and 4th overall: 3:41:28.86

Eckart came in 6th in 45+ : 4:47:41.02

Sasha was 15th in 45+: 5:28:53.31

Richard was 3rd in M50: 4:10:35.29

Stefan was 7th in 50+: 5:04:14.67

Author: Lee Rodgers

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist and the original CrankPunk.

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